With a 8-1 win in the rubber match against USC (12-14, 3-3 Pac-12) on Sunday, Stanford baseball (14-8, 4-2) captured its third straight series victory by taking two of three from the Trojans. While the Cardinal dropped the first game of the series 1-0 on Friday, a late-inning offensive explosion carried the squad to an 11-8 win on Saturday before the bats carried through to Sunday’s finale.
Friday night saw one of the tightest pitchers’ duels of the season. While freshman right-hander Tristan Beck threw a strong 7.0 innings while giving up only 1 run and striking out 8, the Stanford bats could not keep up, tallying just 3 hits and stranding 7 runners on the night against USC spot starter Joe Navilhon.
Although Tyler Thorne, Kris Bubic and Colton Hock combined for three innings of shutout relief for the Cardinal, the Stanford offense failed to capitalize. Freshman Duke Kinamon tallied two singles – one in the second and one in the fourth – but with two outs on the board, the Stanford offense failed to plate any runners.
“I thought Tristan pitched really well and gave us a chance to win,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “We just couldn’t do much with their pitching. Their pitching dominated us. We struck out 10 times and got just 3 hits and didn’t really hit the ball hard.”
The offense woke up in the second game. A furious rally from the Cardinal batters in the sixth inning propelled Stanford to an 11-8 victory on Saturday afternoon. Sophomore infielder Mikey Diekroeger led the charge with 3 hits and 4 runs, including the go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning.
USC jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the second, and while the Cardinal answered with 2 runs in the bottom of the frame, the Trojans had set up a commanding 8-3 lead through five innings.
Stanford surged in the bottom of the sixth. After a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a single loaded the bases, a wild pitch sent the first of five runners home. Plate discipline paid off as a pair of walks plated Diekroeger and kept the bases full. Another wild pitch and a clutch two-run single to left field from junior shortstop Tommy Edman capped off the Cardinal rally and tied the game at 8-all.
“We just did a good job of stringing together a bunch of good at-bats in a row,” Edman said. “Their relievers were struggling to throw strikes and we just did a good job of being patient and not chasing any pitches. When they did throw it over the plate, we got a couple of clutch hits and that was huge in that big inning.”
Diekroeger’s home run gave the Cardinal the lead in the seventh, and Stanford would add a pair of insurance runs in the eighth to defeat the Trojans, 11-8.
In a complete reversal from the first game of the series, the Cardinal’s bats came alive in Game 3, as Stanford had its most dominant performance yet, notching 13 hits in its series-clinching effort to win by 7. Alex Dunlap and Brandon Wulff led Stanford’s hitting, combining for 7 RBIs as Stanford worked its way to a 6-1 lead by the end of the fifth inning. Wulff had a career day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three RBI singles and a sacrifice fly, and Diekroeger also stayed hot with two doubles and a single.
Meanwhile, junior Brett Hanewich kept USC’s bats silent, pitching 7 innings without giving up an earned run thanks to five double plays turned by his defense, while Chris Viall took over in the final two innings, only giving up one hit to secure Stanford’s wide margin of victory.
“It’s really nice to see [Sunday’s result], especially after that first day we scored no runs,” Wulff said. “We sat down with [Coach Marquess] after the game and he just told us, ‘It’s not a lack of effort. We just need to get the ball in play and be tougher mentally.’ The last couple of days, we were able to do it.”
Next up, the Cardinal will travel to take on Bay Area rival California for a non-conference game on Tuesday. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks at 7 p.m.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.